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MARTIN CRAGHAN. if 



GERALDINE BUTT. 



Published under the Direction of the 

Committee of General Literature and Education, 

appointed by the Society for Promoting 

Christian Knowledge. 



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LOKDONi 

SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE. 

SOLD AT THE DEPOSITORIES: 

77 Great Queen Street, Lincoln' 's-inn Field" 

4 Royal Exchange; 48 Piccadilly 

And by all Booksellers. 



Class 1. 



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in 2012 with funding from 

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Tage 12. 



MARTIN CRAGHAN. 



BY 

GERALDINE BUTT. 



'Are there giants in the valley; 
Giants, leaving footprints yet? 
Are there angels in the valley? 
Tell mel I forget I" 



Fmi.IKllBB UNPRK TUB D1RBCTKIK OK TJ 
COMMITTEE OF OBNKUAI, MTFRATURR AND FDI 
APPOINTED BY TUB SOCIETY FOB PKOMOTI 
CHRISTIAN KNOWI.B1IUB. 



LONDON: 
Soctetn for Promoting dfjn'stian Itnoblmp. 

Sold at the Depositories : 

77 Great Queen Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields • 

4 Royal Exchange; 48 Piccadilly; 

And by all Booksellers. 



PRINTED 

For the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 

AT THE CLARENDON PHES8, 
OXFORD. 



MARTIN CRAGHAN. 



[AKE care of the lad, Martin! 'tis but 
| a little one." 

' Mrs. Craghan sighed as she spoke, 
looking up into Martin's face, and then smiled 
down into little Martin's bright eyes. 

"Never fear, mother," whispered the boy, 
" only think of this evening, and the wages — 
the first wages, mother!" 

His father looked proudly and tenderly on 
the eager, happy face, and then across to the 
hard-worked, toil-worn, pretty woman, who 
was his wife. 

"Never fear, lass," he said, echoing the 
hopeful words, " what makes thee down- 
hearted this morning'?" 

"He looks so young," said the woman, 
plaintively, " and it is such hard, rough work, 
Martin ; all day long I sit and fear for the 
child." 

"What a foolish little woman, 1 ' he said, 
kissing her. "Good-bye, lass; Martin is half- 



6 Martin Craglian. 

way to the shaft by this time ; he is always 
ready, and to the fore — a venturesome little 
lad." 

"A brave lad, too," he muttered, proudly, 
with his eye on the boy's slender figure, as he 
stood waiting impatiently, on the brink of the 
shaft, for the re-appearing of the cage. 

It was the younger Martin's first week of 
work in the mines, and this was the day for 
his first wages. He was a very little chap, 
even for his ten years, with his mother's pretty, 
sleepy eyes, and brown, rippling hair, and 
being so little, and new to the work, the task 
allotted to him was that of helping to fill the 
trucks with coal, as they lay waiting on the 
iron rails, and start them down the steep in- 
cline that led to the foot of the shaft. 

There was no great difficulty in the work 
itself, but it was the loneliness the child 
minded. The other boy, who had laboured 
with him all the morning, had been told off, 
at twelve o'clock, to help the men at work 
almost a quarter of a mile beyond, and, saving 
the occasional faint echo of a song, or the far- 
distant tap of the pickaxes, the silence was 
dense and undisturbed. 

He was a brave little chap, in the main, 
but he grew almost frightened at last, as the 
afternoon wore on, and a horrible thought 
that he had been forgotten, made him catch 



Martin Graglian. 7 

his breath, and turn white and sick with fear. 
He thought at first, in his foolish terror, that 
he would leave the trucks for ten minutes 
— ten minutes would bring him to the shaft 
— and see if his father were still there ; but 
suddenly, the idea vanished — what! leave his 
work now, when the time must be nearly 
up, and the wages due ? " No, I am not 
quite a coward," the boy said, laughing out 
loud as he spoke, to convince himself of the 
truth of his words, and he caught up the 
dim echo of the song, and chanted it mono- 
tonously. It was a Methodist hymn — a para- 
phrase — and two lines ran thus : — 

"His Angels He shall give in charge — " 
"And they shall bear thee up." 

He meant to encourage himself, and forget 
the momentary fear, but, somehow, his voice 
sounded so odd and doleful, and the little 
tallow dip in the front of his cap gave such 
a fitful light, that he grew frightened again, 
and paused — listening to what 1 

To a strange, rumbling noise, that seemed 
to come in an instant, and swallow up all his 
lesser troubles in one great fear. 

Little blocks of coals came crumbling from 
the walls on to the ground at his feet, and 
then, without any warning, the distant rum- 
bling sound broke out again, and with it 



8 Martin Crag! um. 

came the low, moaning cry, of some creature 
in distress. 

There was a trampling of heavy feet, a 
confused hubbub of voices, and, in a minute, 
Martin was in the stream of eager, jostling 
men, who strode, in silent, terrible anxiety, 
towards the shaft. Thank God ! whatever 
had happened in the pit, that was clear still, 
and in working order. 

Martin might have been among the first 
of that dense, awe-struck crowd, but that, at 
the frightened cry, he had turned breathlessly 
back, to where he had left the laden trucks. 

Something that he kissed, with tears in his 
pretty eyes, came and rubbed a cold nose 
against his hand, and would not leave him. 
With resolute, childish hands he put aside 
his petted mule ; with unsteady fingers he 
dragged the little, tallow dip from the front 
of his cap, and stuck it on a ledge of coal. 

" Good-bye, dear Brighteyes," he said, " I 
have put my little candle so that you need 
not be afraid of the dark, but you must wait 
for me here. 'His angels He shall give in 
charge,' Brighteyes," he said, "over you and 
me." 

As he ran down the long, dark tunnel, the 
light at the farther end kept him in the right 
path, and hushed, expectant voices told him 
that he was safe still — the shaft was clear. 



Martin Craglum. 9 

What was it that made him pause and 
hesitate again, on the very threshold of safety 1 
What made a sudden smile break through the 
pallor of his face, as he stood and listened'? 
Only that out of the far, dim distance, that 
he was leaving behind him, with swift steps, 
tli ere came the faint echo of a song. 

Before him, a little circle of light shone out, 
like Hope through the gathering gloom. Be- 
hind, the darkness fell, like a pall, between 
him and those distant voices. 

With no thought of his own imperilled 
safety ; with only one cry for his father — that 
his father never heard — he turned back, 
"There is more than an inch of water/' he 
heard some one cry out, suddenly, behind 
him ; but he did not stop to think what the 
words meant. He plodded up the long, de- 
serted tunnel, groping his way through the 
blinding darkness, with no thought save that 
of warning those unconscious men of their 
danger— for nearly ten minutes, staggering, 
faltering, struggling, over all obstacles to 
his unshod feet. Then, suddenly, he spread 
out his hands before him, with a cry that 
echoed and re-echoed down the lonely path — 
he had lost his way ! 

Nearly wild with terror and dismay, he 
tried to struggle back to the dim rays of 
light at the entrance — but in vain. Dark- 



10 Martin Craglian. 

ness, that seized upon him, and wrapped him 
in, met him at every turn, and there were 
no voices to guide him now. 

He had grown stupid at last, in his despair, 
when, before him, through the darkness, there 
rose up suddenly, the dim, uncertain flicker 
of his little candle. a i i 

All his courage came back at the light, 
and he clapped his hands. "I 'have come 
back, Brighteyes," he said; but there was 
no sound in answer. Brighteyes, more faith- 
less than his child-master, had wandered away 
in the darkness — he had not been content to 
wait. 

" Then I must go alone," the boy said ; 
and he took up the tallow dip, and picked 
his way, with tired feet, over the rough, 
uneven ground. "Where could they be? he 
wondered — those men who had been at work 
beyond! what if all these weary steps had 
been in vain ! what if they were safe ! 

The candle nickered, and went out. He 
put up his hand to grope his way, and called. 
His hand struck against a rough, uneven wall, 
that shut him in again, and barred his pro- 
gress. He was too far gone for cries or com- 
plaints now, but he knelt down in utter silence, 
and felt up and down the slight partition. It 
had not been there an hour ago, he knew — 
what was it 1 



Martin Craghan. 11 

His heart beat very fast, as, with his little 
hands, he traced the shape of bricks, and 
saw that, in some fear or peril, the men be- 
yond had built up this mockery of a barricade 
between him and themselves. 

What could be the reason 1 ? If they knew 
of the danger, why had they not escaped? 
Why had they walled themselves into this 
living tomb, if there were any other chance 
of life left? He beat his hands against the 
walls, and cried out, passionately, "Take me 
in ; take me in ;" but no one heard him, and 
his voice die! away in a sob. He staggered 
to his feet, and stumbled forward, to the place 
where he had worked all day, falling, with 
both hands outstretched, over a mass of coal. 

Dragging himself up, his hand splashed 
down into a little tide of water at his feet, 
and, through the darkness, the ripple and 
murmur of tiny waves broke the stillness. 

There were no tears in his eyes now, but a 
despair, too terrible for words, as he gathered 
himself slowly up, and climbed on to a higher 
ledge of ground. In all his agony and terror 
he had never thought of tins — never dreamed, 
for a moment, of this one awful thing — this 
death, that through the darkness, and the 
stillness, had laid a detaining hand upon him, 
and was creeping to his feet — had chosen him 
out, before them all, as its only prey. 



12 Martin Grac/han. 

"Oh! mother, mother/' sobbed the child, 
"I never said ' Good-bye.'" 

Exhaustion came presently, and, with exhaus- 
tion, fear slumbered. He groped about until 
he found the end of candle, and struck a 
match, that was in his pocket, to make a 
little gleam of light. Something, attracted by 
the light, came, splashing and slipping, through 
the rising water — something that stumbled 
penitently to little Martin's side, and moaned 
plaintively — something around whose shaggy 
neck he put his arm, and was comforted. 

" I knew you would come back some time," 
he sobbed, " but I'm not going to think yet, 
Brighteyes — not just, yet, for I've got such a 
long, long time to die in, and the water isn't 
over my foot yet. I think we'll write out 
about the angels, Brighteyes, on the slate — 
you and me, with this little bit of chalk ; 
maybe it'll do us good." 

He knelt on one knee, and traced the ill- 
formed letters on the slate : — " He shall give 
His angels charge" — " His angels, Brighteyes— 
that'll be us soon — you and me. I don't 
remember any more" — he broke off, suddenly, 
" but, maybe, God knows the rest." 

There was a thundering rush and roar 
that drowned his voice, and drowned the 
sweetness of his laugh ; a crash — a fall — a 



Martin Craghan. 13 

terror of great darkness, out of which there 
came the sound of a frightened cry. Then 
all was silent. 

With his last conscious effort Martin 
stretched out his arm to touch something 
that lay across him, and gasped under his 
breath, "Never mind, Brighteyes," he said, 
"you're not alone/' He felt the water rip- 
pling round his bare feet ; he felt the agony 
of pain, that brought a moan to his white 
lips ; he felt the descending darkness, that led 
him to the very threshold of Death; but 
through the fear, and pain, and darkness, even 
to the shore of Death itself, truly God gave 
His angels charge concerning the child. 



All night long, with the stars bright above 
them, the water rising hour by hour, a band 
of brave men worked in steady silence, 
more eloquent than words, to force their way 
through the great blocks of coal, to where 
six living souls waited, with white faces, to 
see which should win the day — those anxious 
workers, or the rising waters. 

They never once paused in their eager 
task, save when a woman, who had come 
down with them, and who stood, straining her 
haggard eyes through the darkness, suddenly 
stumbled, and fell fainting. Then one of the 



14 Martin Craghan. 

men— it was her husband — put his pick aside, 
and lifted her into the cage. "Poor little 
mother," he said, "go home and wait;" and 
then he set to work again. Kind hands 
brought back the life to her eyes, and laid 
her down to wait at the mouth of the pit ; 
but she would not go home. 

So it went on for four hours more ; then, 
from the foremost man, a shout came back. 
Martin Craghan leant on his pick, and lis- 
tened. "What have you found, lads'?" he 
shouted back, hoarsely. 

The answer woke the echoes of the passage, 
and woke, also, a dead hope in Martin's heart. 

"A child." 

"Alive?" 

"Yes." 

The glad answer went pealing all along 
the dark tunnels of coal, and was carried up 
by rough, kind voices, into the grey, summer 
dawn. A pretty, care-worn woman, kneeling 
at the pit's mouth, leant her face over the 
shaft, and spoke under her breath — peering 
down, as if even her loving eyes could pierce 
the darkness : " Thank God," she said, " for 
my little, living child." 

So they found him — encaged in the prison 
that had so much the semblance of a tomb ; and 
they paused, and turned, wonderstruck, to one 
another, when, out of the ruin and confusion 



Martin Craghan. 15 

— from the very midst of great blocks of 
coal, they saw the unmarred, living face, 
smile up. "It is a miracle," Martin said, 
standing to look. But, between the frail 
limbs and the blocks of coal, they struck 
against some soft, protecting substance, that 
it was too dark to see, that had interposed 
a shield between the child and death — a torn, 
mangled body, on which the great blocks of 
coal had fallen and rested, crushing all the 
life out of the patient limbs. 

Little Martin, opening his eyes, when the 
light of the candles fell upon him, put out 
his hand to touch the shaggy coat. "Why, 
Brighteyes, it is quite light/' he said, " do you 
think it is the angels?" 

Then he caught sight of the rough faces 
peering curiously at him, and the rough, eager 
hands working for his release. His father, 
with his cap off, and something dimming his 
eyes, was kneeling by his side, and reading 
the words on the piece of slate, that stood at 
the boy's head, so strangely like a monument. 

" God bless the lad," he said, in a choking 
voice ; and then he added, in a softer tone, 
" Thank God." 

Little Martin looked up, — " I didn't get the 
wages, after all, father," he said, anxiously ; 
what hurt my leg? where's mother?" 

They tenderly dressed and bandaged the 



16 Martin Craglian. 

little leg, that had been so sorely hurt by its 
imprisonment, and told him how the love 
and life of his dumb friend had been his 
shield; and, in their rough way, they were very 
pitiful over the mangled body, and laid it 
aside from the ruin, in the far corner, with 
a piece of coarse sacking over it. 

"I can't quite understand, father," Martin 
said, gravely, as he stood, softly stroking the 
shaggy coat — "He shall give His angels 
charge — you know, that was over Brighteyes 
and me ; and yet he is all hurt, and dead, 
and I am only a little hurt, and quite 
alive." 

" I don't quite see, neither," said his father, 
thoughtfully, " and yet, Martin, think of the 
mother at home, and how it might have gone 
with us, if " 

Meanwhile, the little mother, at the pit's 
mouth, was waiting — waiting, in the patience 
of her hope — for the child, over whom the 
angels had kept such careful watch. 



Printed for the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 
at the Clarendon Press, Oxford.